Not really Manic, still Preachy
Friday, October 22, 2010 10:20:16 AM
Seeing as I had assumed that the Manic Street Preachers (MSP) had by now been elevated to stadium venue status and seeing as the half dozen or so MSP songs I knew of were pretty good, I decided to go, even though it meant a 100 mile drive there and, more importantly, given I was due to start work the following morning at 6:45am, a 100 mile drive back.
More like the Talking Heads
We got there a bit late and unfortunately completely missed British Sea Power. The venue was surprisingly big, and though not quite rammed, it was full enough to ensure that the best view I could achieve meant I only saw the singer from the neck up for most of the gig, and the bassist from the chest up occasionally, depending on where he stood. From time to time the other guitaris emerged from behind his stack and for one very brief moment I did see the drummer.
Verse, chorus, chorus, end
Not a single middle eight all night.
Lots of wordy, slightly cumbersome versus and some great air-punching or finger jabbing choruses. "If you tolerate this, your children will be next", "It's not war, just the end of love" and the scintillating "A democratically elected oligarchy may not be perfect but it's probably the best form of democracy we have but that does not mean we ought to suffer it in a genuinely plutocractic society".
OK, I made the last one up, but you get the idea. The word "preachers" is not in the band's name by accident.
The overriding impression I got was of restraint and discipline. They seem to be a band that is more about the songs than the playing, and for the most part the songs don't need any scintillating playing to make their case. The mix seemed to emphasise the importance of the lyrics too, with vocals to the fore and the drums, sounding a bit soupy, mixed down.
Singer/guitarist James Dean Bradfield is not in the upper echelon of singers but he has a strong, pleasing voice and unlike a lot of singers in the post Whitney era, he lets the melody line do the work.
They are a self-effacing yet confident bunch; there is probably something in the band's manifesto that prohibits them thinking they are better than their fans. Consequently, it was a jolly evening, not as didactic as I feared, with "contained energy" being the watchword of the evening.
They played for about 90 minutes, included songs from waaaaay back, finished with their big hit and that was it. Lights up. No encores. Very professional and somewhat anti-showbiz.
Another band I probably won't go and see again. I'm listening to them on Spotify as I type this (the albums "Lifeblood" and "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours" and it's all been surprisingly mellow) and I will probably get at least one of their albums, just haven't decided which yet. "Send Away The Tigers" is looking favourite, but I have not got through them all yet.